THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW VOLUME 1 CHAPTER 3

Section 1: The Early Events Of Jesus the king
Chapter 3

The Visit Of The Wise Men
Or
The Wise Divinely Warned By God

Scripture To Consider:
“Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, saying, ‘Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.’ When Herod the king heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.”

“And when Herod had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. So they said to him, ‘In Bethlehem of Judea, for thus it is written by the prophet: “But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are not the least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you shall come a Ruler who will shepherd My people Isarel.”‘” Matthew 2-1-6

Something To Consider:
Fancy and fable has been allowed to play so freely with the story of the wise men from the East, that in most minds it is difficult to dissociate the elements of fable from those of fact. It is commonly imagined that these wise men were kings, that there were three in number, that they were named Caspar, Melchior, and Balthasar, that one came from Greece, one from India, and the third from Egypt.

All of these statements belong to the realm of fiction, as do the descriptions of their journey and of their attendants who may have traveled with them, the stories of their later life, and of their baptism by Thomas. It is even said that their bones were discovered in the fourth century by Saint Helena, and were brought to Constantinople and deposited in the church of Saint Sophia, subsequently transferred to Milan, and finally brought by Frederick Barbarossa to Cologne, where the three skulls are guarded today in a golden shrine in the great cathedral.

In reality nothing is known of these wise men in addition to the few brief statements here recorded by Matthew. Out of the mystery of their past they step upon the stage for only one short scene and then they disappear forever. But is that not a mirror image of most of our lives? We are here for such a brief moment and then we are as vapor that vanishes without warning. However, the part they play is not unimportant and the lessons they bring are full of meaning.

Their designation as wise men is a translation of the Greek word magi, a name by which they are often known by, and from which have come such terms as magic and magician. They were probably members of an Oriental priesthood, who were familiar with astronomy or astrology, and who had been taught by Jewish leaders of the Dispersion to expect the coming of a Savior, a universal King. Some sign in the heaven convinced them that such a Prince had appeared and they journeyed to Jerusalem, the capitol city of the Jewish nation, to render the King who had been born the homage or worship which was rightfully due Him.

The important point is that these men were not Jewish and that they represent the first fruits of the gentile nations. They symbolize the truth that in the world today there are countless hungry hearts yearning for a divine Savior and ready to follow even faint and imperfect signs which may lead to His feet by way of the foot of His cross. As for today, in contrast, we are to follow the spiritual thread of the written and preserved Word of God, in order to be divinely led to Christ; otherwise, we may be counted among the many who fall prey to and misled by the many false prophets and false teachers warned of by Jesus Himself.

More Scripture To Consider:
“Then Herod, when he had secretly called the wise men, determined from them what time the star appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem and said, ‘Go and search diligently for the young Child, and when you have found Him, bring back word to me, that I may come and worship Him also.’ When they heard the king, they departed; and behold, the star which they had seen in the East went before them, till it came and stood over where the young Child was.”

“When they saw the star, they rejoiced with great exceeding joy. And when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshipped Him. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Then being divinely warned in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed for their own country another way.” Matthew 2.7-12

Something Else To Consider:
The background of this story is peculiarly dark. For according to Matthew, “When Herod the king heard it, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.” The cruel and suspicious tyrant feared that his power might be endangered by one who was reported to be born as, “King of the Jews”; and the people themselves, who should have rejoiced in the announcement that their Deliverer had come, were distressed rather than gladdened by the arrival and the unusual story of the wise men.

Herod seems to have been the only one stirred to action and sufficiently concerned to aid the travelers in their quest. He summoned the Jewish leaders to learn from them where their promised Messiah was to be born. They knew exactly! They were familiar with the prophecy which pointed to Bethlehem, but they showed not the slightest interest in the possibility that their Messiah had appeared. It was Herod who closely questioned the wise men and sent them to report concerning the young Child, and promising, the hellish hypocrite that he was, to come and worship Him.

Thus, it is now; many who are most familiar with the facts concerning Christ who are least interested in accepting Him as their Lord, while some, like Herod, are hostile toward Christ, fearing that to admit His claims might result in some personal loss. Here too, is a lesson of divine guidance. God gave the wise men a sign in the Esat. He then led them to Jerusalem, and He spoke to them from Scripture. He then directed them to Bethlehem, and finally showed them how to return to their homes in safety.

Where hearts are eager to find the King, there is always God provided guidance which leads at least into His presence. The method of divine guidance may be mysterious. In the case of these wise men, it is impossible to affirm what is meant by, “…the star, which they saw in the East.” Was it a planet or a conjunction of planets, or one of those variable stars which sometimes flash forth with extreme and unusual brilliance? An actual star may have indeed guided them westward and southward, but how could a star move before them on that last brief journey and stand over a definite house in the little town of Bethlehem?

It seems probable that the guidance was supernatural. Something like a star in appearance, but near the earth, may have been granted to lead those travelers to their sacred goal and destination. It has been conjectured that it may have been the cloud of glory which had led the people through the wilderness, also known as the chariot of Jehovah, or the pavilion of the King. But here speculation is futile, the reality is plain; where men are really eager to learn the truth concerning Jesus Christ, providences are granted which give them occasion to rejoice, “…with exceeding great joy.”

Another familiar lesson concerns the service of Christ. It is embodied in the picture of the wise men who, “…fell down and worshipped Him. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him; gold, frankincense, and myrrh.” When one sees the King in His beauty, when one recognizes Jesus is the Christ the divine Savior, there is always awakened the desire to render to Him priceless offerings. Therefore, it is necessary to regard the gifts of the magi as symbols; but they were surely princely and precious.

These gifts of the wise men rightly indicate that the acceptance of Christ involves the devotion to Jesus of one’s praise, of their love, of their treasure, of their toil, and of their life. Are we therefore, giving to Jesus that which is indeed due Him?

When this story is compared with early chapters of Luke it appears that the visit of the wise men must have occurred at least forty days after the birth of Jesus. There is no difficulty in harmonizing the accounts; but the contrasts emphasize the features which ever characterize the gospel of Matthew. Here no humble shepherds are sent to find a baby lying in a manger, but distinguished sages from foreign lands offer the princely gifts, while Herod the so-called great trembles on his throne. This is the gospel of the King.

It is also the gospel of the Messiah; and here Jesus is declared to be the King of the Jews who was definitely predicted as the Shepherd of Israel to be born in Bethlehem of Judea. This is also the gospel of Rejection, and here the rulers of Israel appear from the first as indifferent to His first coming, and all Jerusalem was troubled at His birth.

It is also the gospel of the coming and the triumph of Christ; and here appear the representatives of the gentile nations offering homage to Him before all knees will bow, who someday all will acknowledge Jesus Christ as the universal King of kings.

Something More To Consider:
The visit of the wise men reveals to what great length some are willing to go to seek Jesus, and to what enormous sacrifice some are willing to make in order to be in the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ. The visit of these wise men was also a financially costly trip of probably several months and many hundreds of miles. Physically, the visit of the wise men was a challenging journey, and a human hardship that not everyone would be willing to embark upon.

In contrast, the journey to Jesus, and our remaining obedient to Jesus’ commandments without debate, or hesitation, is indeed challenging, restricting, and at times humbling. And yet, there is according to Jesus, no more rewarding journey in all of life than following Jesus while seeking first the kingdom of God. As a matter of biblical fact, the reward gained by our being faithful in our enduring to the end of a life of faith, again, according to Jesus, enables us to receive His great and exceeding reward of salvation. That is according to Jesus!

The truth is that the wise men of our Scripture to consider, were divinely warned by God! They were specifically, “…divinely warned in a dream that they should not return to Herod…” so, “…they departed for their own country another way.” The writer of Hebrews 11.7, was inspired by God to record, “By faith Noah, being divinely warned of things not yet seen, was moved with godly fear, prepared an ark for the saving of his household [family], by which he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith.”

In our next Scripture to consider, an angel of the Lord will appear to Joseph also in a dream and warn Joseph of the poisonous plot of Herod to seek the young Child Jesus to destroy Him. And so, the question must be asked. Does God divinely warn those wise enough to seek Jesus and His kingdom of things not yet seen? Our answer to that question after having read through the four gospels, the Epistles, and the book of Revelation, should be a resounding yes, and Amen!

All through the gospels, Jesus warns those who have ears to hear what the Holy Spirit of God is saying in every generation. Therefore, what is the Holy Spirit warning this 21st century generation of? Could God through the Holy Spirit be warning this generation of the coming judgment that is destined to fall upon all unbelievers? Could God through the Holy Spirit and through the written and preserved Word of God be warning this most possible end time generation of the strong delusion He has promised to send or has already sent against all who prefer to believe the lie of the enemy and of deceived so-called religious leaders, rather than the truth of His holy Word?

A Few Final Words:
Is it possible that God the Father has warned our generation of the coming of the lawless one who will come according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders? Paul writing in 2 Thessalonians chapter 2, speaking of this coming lawless one, declared; “And with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved.”

We must ask ourselves; do we love the truth of the written Word of God? If not, Paul continues by further stating, “And for this reason God will send them [those who do not love the truth of the Word of God] God will send them a strong delusion, that they should believe the lie that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.”

All throughout the gospels Jesus warned and is still warning those who have ears to hear, to not be deceived by the lying messages of end time false prophets and false teachers. in just the first eleven verses of Matthew chapter 24, Jesus warns three times of coming end time deception, by proclaiming in Matthew 24.11, “Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many [not some but many].”

And because of many being deceived, Jesus stated in verse 12 and 13 of Matthew 24; “And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. But he [or she] who endures to the end shall be saved.”

In Closing:
We have a choice to make! Will we willingly be found overcome by the predicted by Jesus abounding lawlessness we are experiencing at this very moment, or will we be found lovingly looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith? Will we remain confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you, in me, in us, that He will complete that work until the Day of Jesus Christ? The choice remains our choice!

Let’s Pray:
Our Father in heaven, as we contemplate the original visit of the wise men seeking Jesus, let us be divinely warned of end time events and of the abounding lawlessness that is clearly being evidenced in the world today. Let us wisely be found looking unto Jesus every day of the rest of our lives. In Him Always, Amen!

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